I'm a job recruiter – the worst things you can do in an interview which mean you’ll never get hired

SCORING a job interview is only half the battle, as you must successfully nail that interview to actually get the job.

The whole recruiting process can be intimidating, so most of us spend ample time prepping our responses and making sure we look presentable and professional.

Taryn Ross and Rebecca Hawman are managers at the recruitment agency, Pivot + Edge.

As part of their role, they help connect startups with potential candidates and are experts at onboarding and networking.

Speaking with The Sun, the duo shared their tips for a successful job interview, as well as some of the biggest mistakes they see people make—like wandering eyes or obvious typing during a Zoom call.


Due to the pandemic, one of the trends recruiters are seeing is people who have been laid off for some time, unable to find new work.


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Taryn said you can use this to your benefit:

“If there is anything you can actively be doing in that time, whether that's a free online course, maybe you want to take a paid course, brush up on reading about the industry you're in, anything like that is always helpful. It shows initiative.

“Employers like to see that you were in this unfortunate situation, but clearly you were using that time to your advantage.”

While there is a common misconception that a gap in experience is a bad thing, there are many reasonable explanations for that.

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“It’s great to be as transparent as possible. And anything you can do to sort of level up your experience or skills in that time makes it all the better.”

Another difficult question that often comes up in interviews is the infamous: “What are some of your weaknesses?”

“I personally think this is a really great opportunity for you to be honest and share responsibilities that you don't excel at or maybe intimidate you a little bit,” Taryn said.

She offered an example of an answer she recently heard that got the thumbs up.

“Some people say they don’t really enjoy public speaking. So, while that's not a true weakness, it's something you're not comfortable doing.

“A response like this will showcase what you do excel at and highlight those challenges that your employer can work around.”

Another weakness that she herself has given is that she can come off as shy because she likes to keep it professional at first.

Explaining that it may take you a month or two to become more personable with your coworkers allows your employer to understand your demeanor better.


One of the biggest mistakes job candidates could make is flat out lie on their resume.

Taryn said a common lie she sees addresses a person’s fluency in another language.

If you answer “Yes” to an application question that asks if you are fluent in French, you should be prepared to do an entire interview in French.

Understanding that language but not being able to properly speak it does not qualify you as bilingual.

“You will save yourself and the interviewer time by just being truthful,” Taryn explained.

If you do have a decent understanding of the language but cannot honestly consider yourself fluent, there’s a way to communicate that.

“You could always put that language on your resume and say beginner or intermediate or wherever you think you would fall in that category.”


While you may assume hiring managers do not check your references, who you put down makes a difference.

Be aware that most former bosses won’t lie or exaggerate to protect you, as this would reflect poorly on them.

An old boss who barely knew you and can’t speak to any of your qualities besides your ability to “get the job done” may not be your best bet.

“I've had reference checks where the person says, ‘Do not hire them. They show up late. They don't they don't have a great work ethic,’” Taryn said.

As another rule of thumb: make sure the boss knows you’re applying for other jobs.

“I've also done reference checks where I call a former manager and they say, ‘Oh, I wasn't aware so and so was leaving.’”


We are moving into a semi-remote world, which means a lot of job interviews are conducted on Zoom.

But just because you’re taking the call from home doesn’t mean you should treat it any less professionally.

Rebecca said she’s been on too many Zoom calls where the candidate’s camera doesn’t work properly or their audio is fuzzy, making the interview that much more ill-timed and awkward.

“The hiring managers are expecting your technology to work on a basic level. And especially if the company is remote, you want to instill that trust in your manager that you can actually sign in on time and be fully prepared to have that Zoom call,” Rebecca said.

“A lot of times people start the interview in the car or on the bus and everyone is just really frazzled.”

Always assume that your interview will be camera-on, so choose a time where you will be in a quiet room without much distraction.

Dress professionally from head to toe, even if the camera can’t see it all, and ensure that your background is conducive to the call.

“I've personally taken a couple of interviews where the person is sitting in their bed and I can see that. It's fine if you don't have a desk, but then try to just sit on the floor with a neutral wall behind you and blur it or pick a green screen background,” Rebecca said.

“Obviously, we don't want to judge a book by its cover, but naturally you are going to have a little bit of a prejudgment when somebody doesn't look prepared.”

Taryn said there’s another dead giveaway that someone is unprepared for the call:

“One encounter that happens more than you think is, when you ask someone: ‘What prompted you to apply to this role?’ or ‘What interests you about the company?’ and you hear the person typing on their laptop. They’re looking up the job description or researching aspects of the company in that moment because they didn’t come prepared.

“And a lot of times you can see them clearly distracted, looking at a second monitor with their attention focused elsewhere.”


At the end of a job interview, hiring managers usually ask the candidates if they have any questions about the company or the role.

Many people hesitate to ask about salary or paid time off, but Taryn said it’s an acceptable conversation to have.

It’s not just the company trying to figure out if the candidate is a good fit, but the candidate should also evaluate whether the company will be a good place for them to work.

“Salary should definitely be spoken about. We don't want to be moving candidates forward if their salary expectations are way more than what the client can offer. We don't want to waste either party's time,” Taryn explained.  

“And that doesn't just mean base salary, but total package. So vacation time, benefits, things like that.”

Taryn also said that it’s fair to ask about promotion opportunities and climbing the corporate ladder, as long as you word it properly:

“Telling an interviewer that you see this as just a stepping stone job makes it sound as though you're not valuing your time here. It's just for tenure.

“I think if you can word it more around, ‘Well, in five years my goal is to be managing a recruitment department.’ Then the interviewer can kind of understand if that goal would work with their plan.”

Candidates should also use this question time to gain more insights about the company.  

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“No job description will answer all of your questions. You should ask the employer things like: What can you offer me that another company cannot? What is the culture like? What particular skills are expected of me?

“Challenge the employers because the more you learn before taking the job, the better.”  

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